• With careful planning, your dog can make a great companion while on vacation.

    There are a number of things to keep mind before and during your vacation to ensure your dog's health and safety. Whether your dog is a seasoned traveler or a first-timer, these tips will help make your journey together a smooth one.

    Before you leave

    When packing your suitcase, don't forget to pack your dog's essentials as well:

    • Basics. Remember bowls for food and water, dog food, toys, a leash, rawhide bones and other natural treats. If possible, bring along dog food that your pet eats at home and is used to; the same goes for water.
    • Medication. If your pet is on medication or his medication is due during your trip, make sure to pack enough for the entire vacation. Make sure the medication is kept in a secure place, where your pet won’t accidentally get into it.
    • Health records. If your dog has a history of health issues, bring a copy of his medical records with you in case he develops a problem. Ask your veterinarian for referrals to vets in the area you are visiting.
    • Proof of vaccinations. Some destinations will require proof of vaccinations or a certificate of health. Bring up-to-date tags or certificates with you as needed.

    When making your lodging plans, remember that not all hotels or other accommodations are amenable to pets. Contact the American Automobile Association (AAA) for a listing of motels that allow pets. Before confirming a reservation, make sure to review restrictions such as size and type of pet.

    On the road

    After ensuring that you have all of the necessary items for your dog while on vacation, there are a few steps to follow to maintain your pet's safety.

    • Identification. Make sure to keep your dog on a leash at all times. Update your pet's ID tags just in case he decides to bolt at a rest area. Including your cell phone number or your veterinary clinic's number on the tag may be helpful when you are away from home.
    • Secure seating. Accidents do happen, so make sure to decrease chances of distractions by keeping your pet in a carrier or a proper car seat or restraint.
    • Leaving your dog alone in the car. Never leave you dog in the car in warm weather — even for a few minutes. High car temperatures can be deadly.
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    Many dogs will bark or destroy property if left in an unfamiliar place, like a hotel room.